Our man is back in GOVErnment*

Our, Surrey Heath MP, Rt Hon Michael Gove is back in government as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

I wondered, as probably might many others, what Boris Johnson might think or say about the appointment. *Me, being no wit, didn’t come up with this response. Boris Johnson did, see his tweet below,

Crikey, the EU wants us to pay €100 billion to leave

The Financial Times reports, “Brussels hoists gross Brexit ‘bill’ to up to €100bn – France and Germany back tougher approach to Britain’s departure obligations”. [Click on image to expand].

The UK’s annual net contribution to the EU is around £10 billion. Asking us to pay €100 billion up front is optimistic. No, it’s downright bonkers. It’s naive of the EU to release their estimate of the UK’s debt of between €91bn-€113bn during a general election campaign, for surely it will strengthen Theresa May’s vote. Is that what they want? Goodness only knows.

This nonsensical number, of €100 billion, is bound to increase the clamour for a quick exit from the EU, which I’d be against. We must now learn to play hardball with the EU. I recommend we publish our proposals for citizen rights in fine detail, and be prepared for public negotiations. The EU will soon see the benefit of conducting confidential negotiations.

Here are a couple depressing of quotes from the FT’s article,

It also reflects the steadily hardening position of many EU member states, which have abandoned early reservations about the bill’s political risks to pile on demands that will help to plug a Brexit-related hole in the bloc’s common budget.

At the request of France, Germany and several other member states, the commission also abandoned its initial plans to offer the UK a share of assets, worth between €3bn and €9bn, depending on the definition used.

Assumptions from the Theresa May and Jean-Claude Junker dinner

A leaked account of the recent meeting of Theresa May and David Davis with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier at 10 Downing Street has appeared in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung [FAZ].

Read Jeremy Cliffe’s 30 item twitter thread for a synopsis of the points in the FAZ article. The account is not complimentary to Theresa May, but then it’s Juncker’s view in the leaked account.  Here’s my take,

  • J-C Juncker would have been buoyed up by the adoption of the Brexit negotiating position by the 27 EU member states. Thinking that the weight of 27 nations easily outweighed the UK. Correction: This agreement by the EU27 didn’t occur until after the dinner date.
  • Juncker represents the EU bureaucracy, which is minded to see self justifying complexity and lengthy negotiations.
  • A leak of a confidential meeting, and in such comprehensive detail, destroys trust between the parties.
  • That J-C Juncker briefed Angela Merkel soon after the meeting, such that Merkel used Juncker’s uncomplimentary view of the UK’s stance in  a speech the following day.
  • It’s in Germany where the power lies in the Brexit negotiations.
  • I can’t believe that countries like the Netherlands, and Denmark would be happy with the breakdown of trust so early in the negotiations – expect some payback to Juncker.
  • The EU bureaucracy needs money, so puts the ‘divorce’ bill as a priority.

I’m sure there are many more inferences to draw from the FAZ article. For me, the main ones are,

  • Expect negotiations to leak, especially from the EU
  • Likelihood of no deal has increased
  • May and the UK Brexit team need create a viable briefing strategy to counter loss of confidentiality
  • Appears May and her team have not given way on any negotiating points

The Daily Mail reports on the conflicts at the May / Juncker dinner date.

Government launches its plans for a modern industrial strategy

s300_industrial-strategy-cover2Today the government released a Green Paper – Building Our Industrial Strategy. This is important stuff. Strategic planning is what government’s should do, and, mostly, leave the businesses and entrepreneurs to deliver on the strategy.

I’ve learned, over the years, that readers here have rich and wide experience in many sectors of our economy. I thought, therefore, that it might be worthwhile to provide that Green Paper here – all 132 pages of it.

There’s a one page summary of the Industrial Strategy to be seen HERE.

A little odd thought just crossed my mind about 132 pages. Haven’t other documents I’ve posted here also been 132 pages in length. I wonder, is it something to do with printing – multiples of eight plus 4 pages for the cover. Just a thought.

Carelessness with government sensitive papers should be career limiting

There have been numerous occasions when eagle-eyed photographer Steve Back captured sensitive and confidential government documents being held openly by ministers, and the like, attending meeting at 10 Downing Street. Heck, I wrote about it in “Let’s end these unseemly security breaches” not long ago.

confidential-papersFor want of repeating myself, this is what I wrote then,

If it’s a secret, confidential, or sensitive document then it should be held securely in a document wallet, attaché or brief case. It’s cavalier and unprofessional to simply hold such papers in one’s hand, as it’s easy to drop them, lose them to a strong wind, or allow their contents to be viewed by a long camera lens. It should not happen, and sends the message that security considerations are an inconvenience. Wrong, what should be held securely, should be secure.

Seems no one’s learned. Today Steve Back captured this photo. All that can be said in defence of the incautious idiot is that it was on the way in to No 10 and not the reverse. If you’re keen to see an interpretation of the words, they can be seen HERE.

 

Alternative legal opinions on the High Court judgement on Parliament’s Brexit vote

I’ve read the whole High Court judgment on the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. You can read it HERE.

The point of law was whether the Government had the power to sign Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. The judges said no it had not, and in consequence Parliament must have a vote prior to its signing.

In our constitution Parliament sits above the law – not though the rule of law. Inasmuch that the Government is answerable to Parliament. I suppose you could say that Parliament is superior to Government. Government governs – such a simple concept. Parliament oversees and holds the Government to account – again a simple concept. No need for the Judges to interpret this process – when it’s blindingly obvious what the nation expects the government and parliament to do – and that is to sign Article 50 to leave the EU.

judicial-power-projectIf you’d like to read some learned legal views on the High Court judgement, then you can at the Judicial Power Project. Pleasingly they’ve got five short legal critiques, and other brief legal views of what happens next, and the bigger picture.

Here’s the final part of one of the five views, worth reading all five. This one by Richard Ekins [click to read], who is Associate Professor of Law in the University of Oxford and Head of the Judicial Power Project.

The Government’s intention to trigger art. 50 by way of the royal prerogative, challenged in Miller, is entirely consistent with this rule. It is consistent also with responsible government and parliamentary democracy, for the Government is and always has been accountable to Parliament for its exercise of the prerogative.

Parliamentary sovereignty is rightly fundamental to our constitution. But the Miller judgment was not necessary to protect it and, welcome rhetoric notwithstanding, does nothing to uphold it.